Fall Out Boy's still got it, whether you're ex-emo kids (like us) or just want to jam

As a crowd numbering in the thousands sang along to the deepest cut in Fall Out Boy's 22-song setlist, it became clear just how much staying power the band really has.

Fall Out Boy took to the stage at American Airlines Center Wednesday night -- the biggest venue the band has played in Dallas in the 14 years they've been playing music. For two ex-emo kids (and diehard fans), the worry was real.

While most journalists work hard to maintain a sense of neutrality in the topics they cover, this is not the time or place.

We've seen them around the country and in town, whether it was 2013's reunion tour at South Side Ballroom or a co-headlined show with Panic! at the Disco at Verizon Theatre. The band thrives in small, intimate venues and stages where the fans can get real close. As megafans, though, we still reserve a critical eye.

Fall Out Boy's lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Patrick Stump performs on stage during a Mania Tour concert at American Airlines Center on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Dallas.

Could Patrick, Pete, Joe and Andy work a crowd this big? After all, they were built on pop-punk shoulders in the small venues of Chicago in the mid-2000s. But the band's confidence in letting the hits play laid all the worry to rest, and Fall Out Boy commanded the night like it was 2007.

Tara's take

Hi, I'm Tara. In the days before smartphones, I begged my parents to let me buy a "Sugar We're Goin' Down" ringtone for my flip phone.

For the casual fan who has only listened to Fall Out Boy on the radio, the show delivers all your favorite pop hits — “Sugar We’re Goin' Down,” “Dance, Dance,” “Thnks Fr The Mmrs,” “Centuries,” “Uma Thurman” — with some other older tracks to tempt you to dig deeper.

The die-hard fans may be a little disappointed by all the singles in the setlist, but it’s worth noting that Fall Out Boy covers tracks from seven albums, with at least two songs from each, except for 2008’s Folie a Deux.

As radio songs tend to be, the whole set was high energy, only seemingly playing one ballad, which was a cover of “Young and Menace,” their most out-of-character single from the upcoming album, M A N I A.

The new album was originally set to release in September (ahead of the tour), but the band opted to delay the release till Jan. 19 to produce an album they felt better about releasing. That excuse helped fans ease their annoyance, and possibly saved fans from having more “new” songs in the set list. Only one track played at the show, “Expensive Mistakes,” has yet to be released.

Fall Out Boy's lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Patrick Stump (left) and drummer Andy Hurley perform on stage during a Mania Tour concert at American Airlines Center on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Dallas.

Since reaching a can’t-touch-this status, Fall Out Boy has felt the freedom to be political without the worry that their fans will give up on them for it. We haven’t heard any new songs that strike a political chord, but they repurposed some apolitical tracks with video screens to make a few points.

“American Beauty/American Psycho,” the title track on their 2015 album, begot a “Make America Psycho Again” animation. And as Nick discusses below, "Centuries" features imagery of Colin Kaepernick alongside Muhammad Ali.

Fall Out Boy is cementing itself as an arena rock band. The American Airlines Center was not quite sold out, but that didn’t seem to bother the band. (Opener Blackbear did express discontent with the majority of the crowd sitting during his set, but as an opening act, one who opened after Jaden Smith — son of Will and Jada — do you really get to criticize?)

Fall Out Boy's lead guitarist Joe Trohman performs on stage during a Mania Tour concert at American Airlines Center on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Dallas.

And as a band that can nearly pack arenas, the music follows the direction of loud anthems. Almost every single from the past four years has been used in some sort of sports promo. (What is it about pop-punk bands becoming jock rock? Or are they just cheaper for ESPN than Jay-Z?)

Nick's take

Hi, I'm Nick and I recorded myself singing "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" in 2005 using a dollar store voice recorder.

In the times I've seen Fall Out Boy, it's always been a nostalgic trip. But the thing about this band is that they can give you that while also reminding you that they continue to top the charts. Wednesday night's show was packed to the brim with that proof.

Songs like the aforementioned "Sugar, We're Goin' Down," "Dance, Dance" and "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" had the crowd on its feet. Newer successes like "Centuries" and "Immortals" did as well, but the band took an opportunity with the former to say something.

Fall Out Boy's lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Patrick Stump (left), drummer Andy Hurley (center) and bassist Pete Wentz perform on stage during a Mania Tour concert at American Airlines Center on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Dallas.

The runtime of "Centuries" was backgrounded by clips and images of Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback whose demonstrations against police brutality and systemic violence have caused controversy in the league — this season especially. But the song "Centuries" is about legacy and being bigger than yourself. They hammered this home by intercutting those clips with shots of Ali.

For longtime fans, there could have been a bit more to the setlist. The only song on that wasn't a single was "Hum Hallelujah" from 2007's Infinity On High, while the band stuck to tradition and played "Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy Tonight?" mid-set and closed with "Saturday" from the debut LP Take This To Your Grave -- songs about the band, well, being the band.

Fall Out Boy's stage presence also leveled up last night, with pyrotechnics and confetti being one-upped by suspended stages and T-shirt cannons. The sound was great -- when the band played on the main stage.

Fall Out Boy's bassist Pete Wentz performs on stage during a Mania Tour concert at American Airlines Center on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Dallas.

During the show's midpoint, when the band split into two teams and was lifted up on those suspended stages, the sound took a hit. This was particularly discouraging since the band chose this time to debut a new song off the upcoming M A N I A and play some of its greatest hits. Sound aside, it looked great and was surely a pleasant sight for those in the balcony seats.

For those wondering if Fall Out Boy is a band worth seeing even if you're not a diehard fan, the answer is yes. Of the pop-punk bands and the emo mainstays, Fall Out Boy stands among the rest. After all, plenty of the others have gone on hiatus or retired already.

They've worked in every genre, collaborated with musicians you wouldn't expect and still perform like it's the best show they've ever played.

And no, I don't still have the recording.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified which song played during a video of Colin Kaepernick.

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